Wednesday, August 29, 2012

CA Budget Project: This Labor Day, California's Job Market Is Improving, But Still Far From Full Recovery

SACRAMENTO -- A new report for Labor Day from the California Budget Project,a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, finds that three years since the end of the Great Recession, California still has a deep hole in its job market and is gaining jobs far more slowly than needed to fully recover any time soon.

Waiting for Recovery finds that California has regained only a portion of the jobs it lost during the Great Recession and notes that the state's jobless rate -- which stood at 10.7 percent in July 2012 -- has been in the double digits for 42 consecutive months. Waiting for Recovery also finds that long-term joblessness remains near a record high and that workers' wages continue to lose purchasing power amid a weak job market.

The lone bright spot in the report is that California's private sector job growth outpaced that in the nation as a whole between June 2011 and June 2012. However, job losses in California's public sector were greater than in the nation as a whole -- in percentage terms -- and offset some of the state's gains in the private sector. These public sector job losses largely reflect a decline in employment in K-12 public schools and community colleges. 

The report finds that:

California still has a deep hole in its job market and full recovery remains a long way off. The current recovery is far weaker than every other recovery in recent history. California has gained back fewer than two-fifths of the 1.4 million jobs it lost during the Great Recession. Moreover, at the current pace of job growth, California is unlikely to fully recover from the downturn any time soon. Between July 2011 and July 2012, California gained about 30,000 jobs per month, on average. However, California would need to more than double the number of jobs gained per month to close its job shortfall within three years, while keeping up with population growth.

Private sector job gains far outpaced those in the US as a whole. Between June 2011 and June 2012, the number of private sector jobs rose by 2.7 percent in California, compared to a 1.8 percent increase in the nation as a whole. The sectors with the strongest job growth in California were information services -- which includes several high-tech industries -- construction, and professional and business services.

Public sector job losses continued to offset private sector job gains.
California lost more than 31,000 state and local government jobs between June 2011 and June 2012, equal to approximately one job lost for every 10 private sector jobs gained. More than three-quarters of these lost public sector jobs were in K-12 public schools and community colleges. State and local public sector jobs in California dropped by 1.4 percent, more than twice the decline in the nation as a whole.

Long-term unemployment in California is down only modestly from a record high. In July 2012, about 700,000 jobless Californians -- more than one-third (34.8 percent) of the unemployed -- had gone without work for at least one year. This is down only slightly from the peak of 730,000 in May 2011.

Black Californians continue to see a decline in employment. Between July 2011 and July 2012, the employment rate among black Californians of prime working age -- those ages 25 to 54 -- declined by eight-tenths (0.8) of a percentage point, while it increased modestly among similarly aged Latinos (by 1.3 percentage points), whites (by 1.0 percentage point), and Asians (by two-tenths (0.2) of a percentage point). Only around six out of 10 prime-working-age black Californians had jobs in July 2012, well below the share of similarly aged Latinos, whites, and Asians.

Women in California made weaker employment gains than men. Between July 2011 and July 2012, the employment rate among prime-working-age women rose by less than a percentage point, from 64.0 percent to 64.7 percent, well below the 1.4 percentage point gain in the employment rate among similarly aged men, which rose from 79.2 percent to 80.6 percent. The weaker employment gains among women partly reflect the continued drop in public sector jobs, especially in public schools, where women account for more than seven out of 10 employees.

Workers' wages continue to lose purchasing power due to the weak job market and high competition for available positions. Between 2006 and 2011, the typical California worker -- the worker with earnings exactly at the middle of the distribution -- saw her hourly wage drop by nearly 5 percent, after adjusting for inflation, falling to its lowest level since 1998.

The findings from Waiting for Recovery underscore the need for policymakers to maintain a strong safety net for families still struggling in the wake of the Great Recession. The report also points to the importance of investing in proven strategies to improve California's competitiveness -- strengthening the state's schools, colleges and universities, and other building blocks of a strong economy.

A copy of the full report -- which is embargoed until 11:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 1, 2012 -- is available here.

###

The California Budget Project (CBP) engages in independent fiscal and policy analysis and public education with the goal of improving public policies affecting the economic and social well-being of low- and middle-income Californians. Support for the CBP comes from foundation grants, subscriptions, and individual contributions. Please visit the CBP's website at www.cbp.org.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park Needs Your Help!


The Chaw'se Indian Grinding Rock Association is offering an opportunity to win a beautiful quilt handcrafted by two talented local artisans and Association members. The quilt features a fall maple and oak leaf color motif and is decorated with 10 authentic Native American baskets and other items. The quilt will be given away to a lucky ticket holder at a drawing to be held on Sunday, September 30, during Big Time at the park. Tickets are only $1.00 each, 15 tickets for $10.00, or 30 tickets for $20.00 and are available at the museum. All proceeds from the drawing will directly benefit educational and cultural activities exclusively at this local park. You can buy tickets and see the quilt on display at the Chaw’se Regional Indian Museum located in the park.



You don't need to be present at the drawing to win the quilt, but Big Time at the park offers a unique opportunity to experience current Native American culture first hand. There will be vendors offering many hand made Native American items, Indian tacos, as well as traditional ceremonial dancing. (Dancing will not be held in the Round House this year due to the need for structural repairs, but the dancing tradition will continue in another park venue.)

Also at the park this summer, the Chaw'se Association will be sponsoring its annual invitational Native American art show in the museum building . It opens on September 8 and continues on weekends through Big Time, September 29 and 30. The show features traditional and contemporary California art (including basketry, jewelry, paintings, and sculpture) from talented Native American artists.

Amador County's only state park, Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park, was spared from the budget axe: It was not on the list of 70 state parks slated to be closed to meet state budget cuts. However, that doesn't mean status quo for this oak studded salute to Miwok culture nestled on Pine Grove-Volcano Road between Pine Grove and Volcano. Budget cuts have been the rule for more than 10 years at the park. The museum was once open 7 days a week for a total of 37 hours, and was open year round. Currently, it is only open Friday through Monday for a total of only 14 hours. The campground, one of the only available campgrounds below the snow line, is now closed during the winter months. And the school tour program, which exposes thousands of 3rd and 4th graders to Native American culture, has had its staffing severely cut.

What can you do to help? Support the Chaw’se Association by buying tickets for the opportunity quilt. You can also join the Association in its continuing efforts to support educational opportunities at the park. Annual membership is only $15 for individuals, $25 for families, or $50 for businesses.

The park is open daily from dawn until dusk. The museum is open Friday through Monday from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm. For more information about the park, call 296-7488 to contact park staff.

To contact the Association, e-mail us at
chawseassociation@gmail.com, or contact Lynda Burman, association board member, at 296-3795.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Facebook: Amador Stands with Lumber and Sawmill Workers

https://www.facebook.com/SupportAmadorWorkers

Release from SierraPine LTD regarding Local 2927 strike

SierraPine employees in Martell, California, represented by Carpenters Local 2927, went on strike at 3:00 p.m. Thursday, August 23, 2012, without notice to the Employer. The parties have been engaged in collective bargaining for the past five months, including the use of an Oakland mediator. As a result of the Union’s specific request, SierraPine presented its Last, Best and Final Contract Offer to the Union on August 17, 2012. The Company’s offer represented a careful analysis of our competitive position, and contained changes needed to allow SierraPine to compete with out-of-state competitors that do not have the same high electric rates, high cost raw materials or the more onerous wage and hour regulatory environment that increases Martell’s cost structure. Even under the last offer, wages and benefits are among the best in the area.

We are very disappointed that the Union and our employees have chosen to take this action, but we respect their right to do so. SierraPine intends to operate during the strike to continue to serve our customers, and we have plans in place to allow us to do so. We remain hopeful that the strike will be short-lived given the negative impact a strike will have on our Company, our employees, customers and our community.

SierraPine employs more than 60 union and 17 non-union employees in Martell, California. The Company is a privately held composite panel manufacturer of medium density fiberboard (MDF) and particleboard, with operations in Georgia, Oregon and California.

For further information regarding this release, please contact Ric Alli at (503) 248-1134.

Via Gardnerville Record: Daniel Grimes: Family turns to faith after brain cancer diagnosis.

Republished with permission by the Gardnerville Record:
Click on link below to view article:

http://www.recordcourier.com/article/20120821/NEWS/120829972&parentprofile=search


Daniel and Mary Grimes at The Record-Courier on Friday.

Via Citizen Report:

I am Daniel Grimes' sister, Shirley James.
We live in Amador County, California.
My brother was born in Fallon, Nevada
Our family of six children moved to Sutter Creek, CA in 1958.
All six of us attended Sutter Creek Elementary School and graduated from Amador County High School in Sutter Creek.
I would like to run this article because we are long time residents of Amador County and my brother has many school friends and families that need to know that he is in need of their help and friendship right now.

Shirly James

Principles of Citizen Journalism: #3 - Fairness

Fairness : Treating opposing points of view with respect

Fairness is a must for all good journalism. Whether you are presenting a balanced story or arguing from a point of view, your readers will feel cheated if you slant the facts or present opposing opinions disingenuously. This section offers guidance on how to play fair.

Fairness is also about letting people respond when they believe you are wrong, even if you do not agree. It also means listening to different viewpoints and incorporating them into the journalism. It does not mean parroting lies or distortions to achieve that lazy equivalence that leads some journalists to get opposing quotes when the facts overwhelmingly support one side.

Ultimately, fairness emerges from a state of mind. We should be aware of what drives us, and always be willing to listen to those who disagree. The first rule of having a conversation is to listen -- we can learn more from people who think we're wrong than from those who agree with what we've said.

Note: We don't necessarily agree with all views expressed in this section; fairness has many nuances. Please chime in with your own ideas in the comments here or on the individual pages.

http://www.kcnn.org/principles/fairness/

Saturday, August 25, 2012

No Casino In Plymouth - Auction items needed


Attention No Casino In Plymouth Supporters:

We have launched our legal case to stop the proposed casino in Plymouth and to keep that ball rolling we are starting a series of benefit functions.

Our first event October 9th will be a spectacular dinner cooked for our guests by Amador Vintage Market and Taste Restaurant and served at the beautiful Helwig Winery in the Shenandoah Valley. Announcements will be in the mail and available at nocasinoinplymouth.blogspot.com soon.

Right now we are looking for some great live and silent auction items. If you have anything you would like to donate to these events please let me know by responding this email or calling me at 245-6211.

Together we can put an end to the proposed casino in Plymouth.

Thank you and look forward to hearing from you.

Elida Malick

Via Citizen Report: Fire Tax Protest Information


"Greetings,

We were fortunate to catch two errors in the information posted on FireTaxProtest.org within 48 hours of launching the site.  We are contacting you to bring the corrections to your attention.

If you previously downloaded the Petition for Redetermination form, please discard it and click here to download the new version now.

We also corrected one of the addresses to which the form must be sent.  Please click here to view the correct addresses.

Thank you for visiting FireTaxProtest.org.  FireTaxProtest.org is a project of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, California's largest and most effective taxpayer rights organization.

Best Regards,
The FireTaxProtest.org Team"

Here is the corrected addresses:

Although only one address appears at the bottom of the form, state law actually requires that you submit the form to three different addresses.  You must submit it WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE OF YOUR BILL to the three addresses below:
  1. Fire Prevention Petitions, P.O. Box 2254, Suisun City, CA 94585
  2. Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, P.O. Box 944246, Sacramento, CA 94244
  3. Board of Equalization, P.O. Box 942879, Sacramento, CA 94279"
Apparently, I did not list the correct, official state website for this fee which is fireprotectionfee.org so please try this one if you have question...also, I have been informed that setting up a payment plan does not forgive penalties...Lynn, Chair UCC

Use this area to offer a short teaser of your email's content. Text here will show in the preview area of some email clients.
Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Download revised form to ensure your protest counts

 

Greetings,

We were fortunate to catch two errors in the information posted on FireTaxProtest.orgwithin 48 hours of launching the site.  We are contacting you to bring the corrections to your attention.

If you previously downloaded the Petition for Redetermination form, please discard it and click here to download the new version now.

We also corrected one of the addresses to which the form must be sent.  Pleaseclick here to view the correct addresses.

Thank you for visiting FireTaxProtest.org.  FireTaxProtest.org is a project of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, California's largest and most effective taxpayer rights organization.

Best Regards,
The FireTaxProtest.org Team

Via Citizen Report: Important information for anyone with a pond or reservoir

I ran across this today and thought it might interest some of your readers. It's from the California Farm Bureau Federation's Ag Alert. 

Katherine Evatt


--

Commentary: Water board ramps up its water rights enforcement work
Issue Date: August 22, 2012
By Jack Rice

A recent water rights enforcement effort by the State Water Resources Control Board has revealed that many reservoirs, including stockponds, may be out of compliance with the state Water Code. During the past month, the water board sent hundreds of letters to landowners in Humboldt, Marin, Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma counties, informing them that reservoirs have been identified on their property for which the board has no record. Although this enforcement effort currently focuses on these five counties, it likely will move quickly to other parts of the state.

Even though the enforcement effort is new, the laws being enforced have been on the books for decades. This has led many to wonder why the water board is ramping up enforcement now. While there are likely many reasons, especially concerns for protected fish and the overall increased pressure on all water resources, two recent changes are particularly pivotal to understanding the origin of this enforcement effort and what it means for water users throughout California.

The first change was that the Legislature, as part of a 2009 package of water legislation, added significant penalties for failing to file a Statement of Water Diversion and Use, and authorized the addition of 25 new enforcement personnel to enforce this and other requirements of the Water Code. Second, technological advancements in mapping aerial imagery made it relatively simple to find reservoirs, determine the owner of the parcel where they are located, and then determine whether the water board has a record of that diversion. Any member of the public can conduct a similar investigation, using Google Earth and reviewing the Electronic Water Rights Information Management System, eWRIMS, available on the water board website.

These changes contributed to increased water rights enforcement efforts, such as the letters sent to landowners. The letters explain how, under California law, the water board should have a record of every surface water diversion. For surface water diversions initiated after 1914, there must be a permit, license or registration obtained from the water board. This applies to all reservoirs that collect water from a stream, including stockponds. All other diversions, with a few minor exceptions, are required to file a Statement of Water Diversion and Use. Working together, these two requirements mean that the water board should have a record for nearly every surface water diversion. If there is no such record, that diversion may be violating longstanding provisions of the Water Code and the landowner could be subject to significant penalties.

The letters explain that any surface water diversion initiated after 1914 that does not have a permit, license or registration is unauthorized. Under the Water Code, failure to have such authorization is considered a trespass against the state and is subject to a $500 fine for each day the unauthorized diversion or use occurs. Because the vast majority of reservoirs and stockponds were constructed after 1914, each must have the appropriate permit, license or registration if it diverts water from a stream. Based upon the board's letter and information learned from landowners in the five counties, it appears that there are a significant number of reservoirs and stockponds that may not have the proper authorization. This is probably true for other parts of California as well.

Failure to file a Statement of Water Diversion and Use with the state water board could result in a $1,000 fine. Failure to file a statement within 30 days of notification by the board subjects the water user to fines of $500 for each day the notice is late.

Anyone with a reservoir or stockpond subject to water board jurisdiction must make certain to comply with both requirements. While there are circumstances where a reservoir or stockpond may not be subject to water board jurisdiction—for example, sheet flow ponds, groundwater storage or wastewater ponds—these are the exceptions, not the rule. According to the letters, the process for bringing reservoirs or stockponds into compliance is to submit a Statement of Water Diversion and Use within 30 days of the date of the letter. Then, within 60 days, the landowner should inform the water board of what actions will be taken to correct any unauthorized diversion of water. Both steps must be taken to bring a pond into compliance with the Water Code.

It is very important that anyone receiving a letter regarding water diversion and use from the State Water Resources Control Board take the letter seriously and respond appropriately. Because there are potentially very significant penalties, anyone who believes they may be out of compliance should consider contacting an attorney or engineer familiar with water rights to assist them in the process. Additional information on this issue is available on the California Farm Bureau Federation website at www.cfbf.com/issues/; look under the Water subheading for information on reporting requirements for surface water diversions.

(Jack Rice is associate counsel for the California Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted at jrice@cfbf.com.)


Read this and more articles from the CFBF at:
http://www.agalert.com/story/?id=4549



Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview: Tony Garcia, Local 2729 President


Local 2729 Strike, SierraPine LTD-Ampine Particleboard, Sutter Creek-Martell, CA
Friday, August 24, 2012

Carol/ACN: Give me a little run down of what is happening here, a timeline of events that brought you to this point here.

Tony Garcia: Contracts were expiring this year. We met with them [SierraPine LTD] starting April, and within those four months, there were a series of eight meetings. They want a lot.

Carol/ACN: They presented a contract to you.

Tony Garcia: Yes, they presented a proposal a number of times; it had been changed only a small amount. Unfortunately, every time it changed, it was a little bit worse. The last time was August 14 & 15; we met with them, they requested a mediator there also. She was apologetic at best. Basically, she was like, “There’s just no room to negotiate; we’re not getting anything done here.”

Carol/ACN: So the frustrations for the last few months…your frustrations?

Tony Garcia: Frustrations have been at a high level. A lot of these guys are working 12 hour shifts…especially these last couple of months it’s been super hot, and it’s hard to be under the stress of this contract deal.

Carol/ACN: Now, you guys walked out…?

Tony Garcia: We walked out yesterday at three.

Carol/ACN: What prompted that?

Tony Garcia: At the last meetings, they gave us their last and best final offer.

Carol/ACN: But nothing was resolved.

Tony Garcia: They told us when we left that they plan on implementing the contract on the 27th.

Carol/ACN: Even though it’s unsigned?

Yes.

Carol/ACN: Did they give you an explanation for their logic?

Tony Garcia: For the whole contract? They said times are tough and repeatedly told us that they’ve given back and given back, and we’ve enjoyed a lot of good benefits over the years and that it was our turn to give back this time.

Carol/ACN: So come Monday, what is the general feeling of what the Union will be doing?

Tony Garcia: We took our vote last week, on Wednesday. It was a no vote, 52 to 6, unanimous vote. Our representatives talked with the company lawyer yesterday, and they didn’t have any room to negotiate.

Carol/ACN: And that’s when you walked out.

Tony Garcia: Yes.

Carol/ACN: So what’s the future? What are the next steps?

Tony Garcia: We’re hoping they’re going to come back and negotiate with us.

Carol/ACN: Any word?

Tony Garcia: No. No word from anyone in there. The supervisors are the ones in there, I believe. They pass us in the morning.

Carol/ACN: What are your feelings as to how this might impact Amador County?

Tony Garcia: There’s a big impact. Most of the guys here are from Amador and Calaveras County. You know, I mean it’s going to hurt them and their families. Me for one; I’ve got six kids at home. But there are things you have to stop. You have to draw the line at some point.

Carol/ACN: A lot of trucks come in and out of here, fuel up at the diesel place. If they shut this place down, that’s bound to impact a lot of people, vendors, builders…that’s not just job-wise, but  business-wise as well.

Tony Garcia: Sure. It would be a huge impact. Everybody knows that. This place has been here for a long time. That’s a part of the problem. I mean, you look at these guys who have been here 40 years, and they built this contract for 40 years if not longer, and those guys are behind the younger guys. We’ve endured some pretty harsh layoffs here lately as a lot of people have. Our seniority line runs in the 8-10 year range, so we don’t have a whole lot of new guys here, but everybody’s together in this saying, look, we’ve built this over a long period of time. We can’t give this stuff back.

Carol/ACN: There is some high tech, state of the art equipment in there, built especially to do what it is you guys do. Most (if not all) of you are the only ones who really know how to run that equipment. So do you think they’d be forced to shut down, because of the lack of being able to find workers to run those machines?

Tony Garcia: They told us in the first couple of meetings—when they knew it was getting ugly right away—they said we won’t try to run it, we’ll just shut it down. But the last time they didn’t say that, and we can hear things running right now, so something’s running.

Carol/ACN: So decisions are going to have to be made above the supervisors there in order for you to really know what to do. And come Monday…well, it’s pretty much the waiting game for you all right now, right?

Tony Garcia: Correct. I mean, that’s the idea. We need to have some serious negotiations behind this. The guys have to know there’s a plan in place, and unfortunately, we’re out here for the long haul, if need be.

Carol/ACN: From what I understand, you were pretty agreeable. I mean, you were willing to make some sacrifices, right?

I haven’t talked to anyone here in our local who said they weren’t willing to give up to some things.

Carol/ACN: But they didn’t listen to those?

Tony Garcia: Well, we gave them a proposal to start with, and twice we asked if they had looked at it, and they had never, to our knowledge, looked at it.  The two times we tried to discuss our proposal, they didn’t discuss it. So it was all about their proposal. They said that these are things we have to do to survive, period. So we’ve been pushed up against a wall for a long time.

Carol/ACN: Anything else you’d like the community to know about?

Tony Garcia: Support is welcome. These guys are out here, we’re going be out here, 24 hours a day. They were out here last night.

Carol/ACN: Thanks for your time, Tony.

Tony Garcia: Thanks for coming out!

-----

Sites of interest:

Sierra Pine Composite Solutions

Carpenters Industrial Council



Via Citizen Report: Sierra Pine workers go on strike

Sierra Pine workers walked out on Thursday, August 23 when negotiations could not be reached between Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union Local 2927 and Sierra Pine LTD:
One of the general labor workers, Jason White, posted the following on his Facebook Wall:

"The last thing on this planet that any of us wants to do is stand out in the sun and stop production WE ALL JUST WANT TO WORK but want to do so under a fair labor agreement. The new "contract" that is being imposed on the 27th of this month is no agreement, it's one side saying "you are screwed". None of us wants this, we want to work and get treated fairly for the work we do. WE not anyone else but WE have kept this company alive in one of the worst market that a lot of us has ever seen while so many other facilities have been forced to close down, how is it fair to take all of this away from us after we worked so hard to keep this place going? It's not fair, not fair at all; not a labor agreement and least of all, a fair labor agreement." - Jason White

(Thank you, Jason, for meeting with me last night at Clark's Corner!)




According to White, Sierra Pine LTD still plans on implementing the [unsigned] Agreement on Monday, August 27, 2012 regardless of the failed negotiations. The letter below was released by Local 2927 and is being distributed by picketers:


I have attempted to contact Sierra Pine LTD's corporate offices in Roseville about the issue, and will keep you all updated when/if I get a response.

If anyone has any additional information about this story, please contact me at acneditor@gmail.com

Carol Harper, Editor
Amador Community News
NewsAmador.com
facebook.com/AmadorCounty

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Petition for Fire Fee Appeal is Now Online

Click on the link below for information:

http://www.calfirefee.com/2012/08/petition-for-fire-fee-appeal-is-now-online/

Via Citizen Report: Regarding Fire Fee

I thought I would share some information that may be useful regarding the Fire Fee.
The California Board of Equalization has a phone number to call to answer questions, as well as set up a payment schedule for those that are unable to pay the Fire Fee.
Call 1-800-400-7115 and use Option 4.

Jackie Vaughn

2012 Mokelumne River Cleanup to be held in Sept & Oct

2012 Mokelumne River Cleanup to be held on Saturday, September 15 and Saturday, October 20

On two Saturdays, September 15 and October 20, people who care about the Mokelumne River will gather at sites from Salt Springs to Lodi for the 2012 Mokelumne River Cleanup.

“People who participate in the Mokelumne River Cleanup have a great time while they do something good for our local river,” said Randy Berg, Foothill Conservancy cleanup coordinator. “We’ve been doing these cleanups for more than two decades. This is the fourth year that we’ll be joining volunteers across the Sierra in September as part of the Great Sierra River Cleanup and people all over the state taking part in the California Coastal Cleanup. And in October when the weather’s a little cooler and the river recreation season is nearly over, we’ll clean the busier sites along the Mokelumne.”

Mokelumne participants will work along the river’s banks, in the river, and on Pardee and Camanche Reservoirs removing trash accumulated through the summer months. Previous cleanups over the last 21 years have cumulatively removed tons of trash and recyclables. The cleanup benefits wildlife and water quality while keeping the river a beautiful place to visit.

“I am very excited about this year’s cleanup event,” said Dave Johnson at East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). “We are partnering with Pardee and Camanche concessionaires to clean up the shoreline of both reservoirs. We are also attempting to clean the lower Mokelumne River all the way to Woodbridge Dam.”

Local teens clean Vaught's Beach during the 2011 Mokelumne River Cleanup.

Participants must register in advance.
On September 15, the event will be held at locations on the North Fork Mokelumne below Salt Springs in the Eldorado and Stanislaus National Forests, on Pardee and Camanche Reservoirs, and on the lower Mokelumne from the Mokelumne River Day Use Area downstream to Woodbridge Dam.
On Saturday, October 20, the cleanup will move to the North Fork Mokelumne at Highway 26, and the main stem Mokelumne at Electra, Big Bar, and Middle Bar. 

Volunteers should register as follows:
•    For the September 15th cleanup at Salt Springs and the October 20th Electra-Big Bar and North Fork/Highway 26 cleanups, sign up online at www.foothillconservancy.org, e-mail randy@foothillconservancy.org or call Randy Berg at 209-295-4900. These sites will offer a special prize for the weirdest trash find and the chance to win cool prizes. 
•    For the September 15th Cleanup at Pardee Reservoir, Camanche Reservoir, and the Mokelumne River Day Use Area sites, sign up online at www.ebmud.com/recreation, or contact EBMUD’s Dave Johnson: johnsond@ebmud.com or 209-772-8339.

This year’s Mokelumne River Cleanup sponsors are the Foothill Conservancy, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Pardee Lake Recreation, and Camanche Recreation Company. Business sponsors include ACES Waste Services, California Waste Recovery Systems, Pine Grove Market, George Reed, Inc., and Munnerlyn’s Ice Creamery. The Salt Springs cleanup is being conducted in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. The Great Sierra River Cleanup is sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a state agency.
Volunteers should wear long pants and sturdy boots or closed-toe shoes, and bring along work gloves, a hat, insect repellent, sunscreen, a water bottle or canteen and a bag lunch unless they plan to participate in a post-cleanup barbecue for volunteers on Saturday, September 15th at Camanche South Shore. Water and snacks will be provided. Flotation devices are recommended for those working close to the river’s edge. Properly equipped paddlers are welcome to help from the river at Electra, Big Bar, Middle Bar and Highway 26, and on the lower Mokelumne River (ask when you register). No pets or alcoholic beverages, please.

River cleaners under 18 are welcome if accompanied by responsible adults (one adult for every four minors). Minors must have their liability releases signed by a parent or legal guardian. Copies of the release for Salt Springs, Electra, Big Bar and Highway 26 can be downloaded from the Foothill Conservancy website or obtained from the Conservancy office.

Groups are welcome to participate—please call in advance for information. Foothill Conservancy also urges everyone to sign on to support National Wild and Scenic River designation for the Mokelumne – the only way to ensure we have a river in our future.

For more information, contact Randy Berg at 209-295-4900, e-mail randy@foothillconservancy,org or visit www.foothillconservancy.org.  End

Thursday, August 16, 2012

CA Budget Project - Video: Our State Budget Is a Local Budget


Senior Policy Analyst Scott Graves discusses the importance of the state budget to communities across California and explains how a large share of the budget flows to individuals, schools and colleges, and various other resources and services at the local level. (1:15)

Click on link below to view video:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Democratic Club - Sat Aug 18

 The Democratic Club of Amador County will be holding its monthly meeting on Saturday, August 18th from 10 AM to 12 PM at our campaign headquarters on Hwy 88/49 in Jackson.  We will be hand-addressing and stuffing envelopes for our Get-Out-The-Vote campaign.  If you have ever had the urge to do something to help elect Democrats this year, now is the time to volunteer.  Some of us might actually get there early and some may stay late to get the job done.  However amount of time you can donate would be greatly appreciated.

In Unity,
Steve Christensen
President, Democratic Club of Amador County

Monday, August 13, 2012

Progressive Women's Committee - Thurs Sept 6

The Progressive Women's Committee will meet on Thursday, September 6 at 11:30 a.m. at
Thomi's Banquet Room in Jackson.  This month's speaker will be Congressional Candidate Jack Uppal. 
This is an open meeting and all interested persons are welcome to attend.  The buffet luncheon is $15.00,
cash or personal check payable at the door.  Reservations are required no later than Tuesday, Sept. 4th. 
To make reservations, please call Sally at 267-0177 or trestrail@gotsky.com.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mother Lode Tea Party Newsletter

Click on link below to view newsletter:

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=ds7av5iab&v=001tNBA_dSZoNq4cqnayxKOzLIimfYtkMxMnXooh9FFF66RsGDu85G2aW7Fj3WsyooaCL411J-mP69CoEfKCGVb09CiDD_My3UGxJ_r2IDbE67gZ9qcNRIWRhC1ip8b24dqQc2sfgHnI6uGq3g9xuvko-6npvi8wjI62EJ2m62ymIYMO-va8OUrfYxmqu7CowmPIkpLCYacd0pUv078vcT9wg%3D%3D

Foothill Conservancy - Foothill Focus - Summer 2012

Click on the link below to view newsletter:
http://www.foothillconservancy.org/pages/focus4.cgi?magcatid=&magid=43

CA Budget Project: Congress Should Maintain States' Flexibility To Expand SNAP Food Assistance

A new CBP analysis examines deep cuts that Congress is considering making to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Known as CalFresh in California, this program provides food assistance to nearly 4 million low-income individuals across the state, over three-fifths of them children.

As part of the reauthorization of the federal Farm Bill, the US House of Representatives is considering cutting SNAP funding by more than $16 billion over the next 10 years, largely by eliminating the flexibility that states have to broaden SNAP eligibility to more low-income working families. This change would end SNAP assistance for roughly 2 million to 3 million low-income individuals in 40 states, including California.

The CBP's analysis discusses the growing need for CalFresh due to the Great Recession, looks at how federal policy changes in recent years have boosted nutritional assistance for eligible families, and examines the national and state-level impacts of the SNAP cuts now being considered in Congress.

Click here to read the analysis:
http://cbp.org/pdfs/2012/120809_CalFresh_SNAP_BB.pdf


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Via Citizen Report: The Current Federal Budget (YouTube)

A Quick illustration on our fed Budget. Please watch and let me know what you think.
This is a must watch.
This is a clear and accurate presentation of the problem. Last year's budget documents from the Office of budget Management (should be office of debt observation) were used, so the current tables do not match up exactly, but the presentation is still valid and attention getting.
http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/EW5IdwltaAc?rel=0  

Thornton Consolo

Monday, August 6, 2012

45% Water Rate Increases at AWA Could Soon Be Reality

On July 26, the Amador Water Agency Board directed staff to send out notices informing ratepayers of five water rate increases over the next 4 years, averaging 31%. Amador Water System customers (Jackson, Ione, Sutter Creek, Plymouth, Drytown, Amador City and Martell) can expect an average 26% increase over 4 years. Upcountry’s CAWP system will get an average rate increase of 45%. Camanche rates will increase an average of 19%, and LaMel Heights rates will go up an average of 28% over the 4-year period.

Members of the public attending the meeting were surprised that the AWA Board would ask for rate increases with their accounting in a state of disarray. As the Grand Jury noted, AWA’s auditor found that “the Agency's bank accounts have not been truly reconciled." Bill Condrashoff questioned, “Why would ratepayers give AWA more of their hard-earned dollars if AWA cannot account for what they are collecting now?”   Under Proposition 218, ratepayers have the right to protest the rate increase. If more than 50% object, the increase will not go into effect.   At the meeting, consultant Robert Reed gave a presentation on the still incomplete System-Wide Water Rate Study.

The rate study recommends raising rates five times over a 4-year span. In the first year, AWA’s 7,000 water customers will pay an additional $1,195,700 for water (an 18.5% increase). Four years of “automatic” Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases will then follow, giving a total customer water rate increase of 31% (assuming inflation is 2.5% per year). Over the first five years, the increase will generate an additional $7,900,000 ($1,100 per customer). In the rate study, Reed noted that the “automatic” rate increases may not be enough and that “additional water rate increases might need to be considered within the next five years…” The proposed rate increase is a further subsidy of the 16 specially favored landowners participating in the Amador Water System Community Facilities District.

Reed’s presentation showed that the CFD will generate only $120,000 to help with the debt service on the Amador Transmission Line. However, Reed’s March 2012 rate study assumed the CFD would generate $300,000. The $180,000 shortfall required an additional 4 to 5% increase to AWS customers. The Grand Jury found that the AWS CFD “appears only to be beneficial to a select number of developers and may not make any substantial decrease in the ATL loan debt.”   The AWA Board asked to review the rate increase notice before it is mailed to ratepayers. AWA attorney Steve Kronick said that the Board may need to hold a special meeting before the next regularly scheduled meeting on August 9th to approve the notice.   Once the AWA Board approves the rate notices, they will be mailed to all water customers and landowners with water connections. Ratepayers will have 45 days to protest the increase. If more than 50% object, the increase will not go into effect.


  • Proposed CFD Discounts Infrastructure to 16 Landowners at Ratepayer Expense On July 26, the AWA Board adopted a resolution declaring its intention to establish a Community Facilities District (CFD) in the Amador Water System (AWS). AWA Board members said they believe that the CFD will reduce the need for future rate increases. However later in the same meeting, the Board voted to send out notices to raise rates for all Amador Water Agency water customers. Though the CFD will only include 16 property owners (208 parcels totaling over 20,000 acres), it will affect all AWS ratepayers because the 16 landowners will be guaranteed water treatment facilities at a 60% dicount. Ratepayers will make up the 60% difference with higher water rates. No documentation of how the tax amount was determined was presented to the Directors. Bill Condrashoff explained the problem for existing ratepayers: “The most recent fee study from AWA shows that the cost of treatment is over $4,000 per household. Participating in the CFD will cost only $1,500 to reserve treatment. Existing ratepayers will pay higher rates to make up the difference. This plan is just another ponzi scheme to extract money from ratepayers”.

  • AWA has scheduled a public hearing on the CFD for August 27, 2012, at 9:00 a.m.

  • AWA Rate Protest Procedure More Difficult for Ratepayers Based on complaints from the public and Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) , AWA’s attorney recommended amending the protest procedures that the Board adopted in March. Specifically, the new procedure would require that each protest include the AWA customer account number and a parcel number. After a heated discussion with the public, the Board denied that requiring account numbers would deter ratepayers from signing a protest form. Although AWA only needs a name and address to identify a service connection and the responsible ratepayer, customers will now have to find their parcel number and account number in order to exercise their Constitutional right to protest. Back in 2010, AWA refused to disclose account information for Upcountry ratepayers, claiming that ratepayer indentification information is confidential. The new Prop 218 procedure requires supposedly confidential information on protest forms, which will be availalable to the public after they are submitted to AWA.
  • AWA’s General Manager and Attorney instigated the changes, making a repeat of the successful 2010 rate protests more difficult. The Directors denied involvement. However, when asked where the funds came from to pay the Attorney, it was disclosed that the Directors had set up an $80,000 account for the General Manager to use as he saw fit. All the AWA Directors support a policy whose only practical effect is to disenfranchise their constituents, suggesting that there is more to this story than was disclosed in public. David Evitt commented, “If the Directors respected democracy, they would explain to their constituents why they need a rate increase and accept the result of the protest. Instead, they are changing the rules because they do not dare tell current ratepayers that they are paying for new facilities that will benefit someone else.”
  • Board Approves $200,000/Year General Manager Contract The AWA Board approved a contract with General Manager Gene Mancebo. Mancebo’s annual salary is $137,004 with 10+ weeks of paid leave and other fringe benefits estimated at approximately $68,000. Ratepayers will pay about $200,000 ($17,000 per month) for Mancebo’s employment as GM, even though AWA’s books are in such bad shape that no accurate audit can be prepared for at least the last two years. The list below shows what the AWA Board agreed to in exchange for Mancebo’s services:
    • $137,004 salary
    • $500/month car allowance
    • $60/month cell phone allowance
    • Health insurance for Mancebo and his dependants
    • Dental Care
    • Vision Care
    • Life Insurance $300,000
    • Personal Disability Insurance
    • Worker Compensation Insurance
    • Retirement Benefits
    • 25 Days Paid Vacation Leave
    • 12 Days Paid Sick Leave
    • 15 Days Paid Administrative Leave
    • Paid Holiday Leave
    • Other Discretionary Benefits



      • AWA Spends $79,013.72 on Attorney in 6 Months In the last 6 months, the AWA Board spent nearly $80,000 of ratepayer funds on legal issues. $25,000 was spent on the recent rate study and the CFDs that are still not complete. $8,400 in attorney fees was used to respond to public records requests, including a letter he wrote to explain why AWA would not provide the publicly-requested financial documents tracking restricted funds. The Directors voted to refuse to disclose AWA’s financial status, and the “66013” lawsuit was filed because that was the last option for finding out what happened to the money. $7,000 went towards the legal issues specifically related to the “66013” restricted funds suit filed in March 2012. The suit asks that accurate financial reports be produced. Ken Berry commented, “AWA still has not produced accurate reports and the Board is still spending ratepayer funds on their attorney to avoid producing the reports.” Asked if he thought there was any connection between the “66013” lawsuit and the consolidation and its rate increase, Berry said, “I think it is clear that the Directors know that ratepayers and voters demand accountability for public funds. The lawsuit has already demonstrated that the Directors cannot explain where the money has gone. What else can they do but try to get another rate increase before their mismanagement is exposed? They should hire a bookkeeper to account for the money, not pay their attorney to delay that accounting.”
        1. Friday, August 3, 2012

          Jackson Rancheria going even greener



          JACKSON, CA
           – In continuing efforts to be good stewards of the environment, Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort has announced it is replacing over a million individual bottles of water with more easily recycled cups starting August 1, 2012.

          A thorough analysis of the bottled water consumption at the resort revealed that while all efforts are made to recycle the small bottles and lids, many still end up in landfills. Studies show that although many people intend to recycle disposable water bottles, 69% of bottled water containers end up in the trash and not in a recycling container.1

          “Our employees are always eager to recycle any and all possible objects on the property,” states General Manager Michael Graninger, “but of course we cannot control what happens to each bottle. Many are carried from the property only to end up later in a landfill.”

          In spite of having easy access to clean drinking water, the United States is the world’s largest bottled water consumer.In 2008, the U.S. used enough plastic water bottles to stretch around the Earth more than 190 times.

          It takes 2,000 times more energy to produce a bottle of water than it does to produce tap water.3 And as Dr. Gina Solomon, senior scientist at the environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council, told The New York Times “there is no reason to believe that bottled water is safer than tap water.”

          In the last year Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort has purchased over 1,000,000 individual bottles of water. In 2011 the resort recycled over 4 tons of plastics, as well as over 69,000 lbs. of pallets, 1,400 lbs. of aluminum, 675,000 lbs. of metal, 196,000 lbs. of cardboard, and 105,000 lbs. of shredded paper, but is always looking for ways to do better.

          The cups and lids that replace the bottles and lids are more easily recycled and break down faster when they do end up in the environment.

          Adding to the effort, more water fountains, some designed to fill reusable water bottles, are being added on the Casino floor, making it easier for guests to reuse cups or their own water bottles.
          Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort has always been green and is going even greener, contributing to a cleaner environment Rancheria Style®.

          Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort is located at 12222 New York Ranch Road, Jackson, CA 95642. 800-822-WINN (9466), JacksonCasino.com.

          __________________________________________
          1 “IBWA Rebuts Misleading and Factually Incorrect Video about Bottled Water”. Alexandria VA, March 22, 2010
          2 Un-Habitat & UNEP, Sickwater? The Central Role of Wastewater Management in Sustainable Development.” 
          3 Gleick, P.H, Cooley, H.S,  “Energy Implications of Bottled Water,” The Pacific Institute

          Located in the Sierra foothills town of Jackson, CA, Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort is owned by the Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians, a federally recognized Indian tribe. A sovereign government, the Rancheria is dedicated to developing projects that not only enhance the tribe’s ability to remain self-reliant, but also reflect a commitment to be a good neighbor.



          Wednesday, August 1, 2012

          Letter to the Editor: Giving Thought to our Libraries

          I appreciated your editorial ["Giving Thought"] about the importance of community involvement regarding the many issues that affect our lives. In case you're not aware of it since you didn't mention it in the editorial, the Amador Libraries have been devastated by budget cuts- two librarians have been laid off, hours and services cut, the ability to buy sufficient numbers of books curtailed causing long waits for new books, and having to ask The Friends of the Library for money to purchase day to day supplies.

          The amount of the budget cut was 1% of the County's carryover funds for next year- NOT 1% of the budget, meaning that the County could easily afford to keep the Libraries in relative health. I say relative health because the Library has lost 8 positions in the last four years as well as having its budget reduced, so it was already running at a bare bones level. This year's cut, unnecessary as it was, has put the Libraries in survival mode.

          Why the Supervisors agreed to the cut is unclear- many in the community expressed their dismay at meetings and through emails but were ignored- it may be that the Supervisors are unaware of the effects of the cut or that they simply don't care, don't value the Libraries. As you said in your editorial, services such as the Library belong to us, it's our money that the Supervisors are withholding, and the Supervisors work for us.  The community can make all of this clear to the Supervisors if it is willing and persistent.

          Thank you for your thoughts.

          Jim Jacobs